Can Cats Cry?

Jan 22, 2024 | Cats & Kittens | 0 comments

Written by: Alex Ramsey. Explore our editorial process.

In the enchanting world of our feline companions, we often find ourselves captivated by their mysterious and expressive behavior. One question that has intrigued cat lovers for generations is whether cats can shed tears. As we delve into feline emotions, we embark on a journey to unravel the enigma: Can Cats Cry Tears of Sorrow?

The Reasons A Cat Can Have Watery Eyes

With their captivating and enigmatic personalities, cats sometimes exhibit watery eyes that tug at our heartstrings. However, understanding the diverse reasons behind their watery eyes can help us provide the best care for our feline companions.

Environmental Irritants

One common cause of watery eyes in cats is the presence of environmental irritants. Much like humans, cats can also experience sensitivity to dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. These irritants can increase tear production when they come into contact with a cat’s eyes.

This surge in tears helps to wash away the irritants and maintain the clarity of their vision. If your cat’s eyes become watery after spending time outdoors or in dusty environments, it’s likely a natural response to these irritants.

Breed-Specific Factors

Certain cat breeds, such as Persians and Himalayas, are more prone to watery eyes due to their unique facial structures. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds often have shorter nasal passages and differently positioned tear ducts.

As a result, tears might accumulate more quickly in the corners of their eyes, leading to tear overflow and staining around the eyes. Regular cleaning and eye care are crucial for these breeds to prevent discomfort and potential infections.

Infections and Allergies

Infections and allergies can also contribute to watery eyes in cats. Conjunctivitis, for instance, is a common eye infection that can lead to redness, swelling, and increased tear production.

Allergies to substances like pollen, dust mites, or certain foods can trigger a similar response. Identifying the underlying cause of the watery eyes is essential in these cases, as treatment may involve addressing the infection or managing the allergies to alleviate the symptoms.

Corneal Ulcers

In some instances, corneal ulcers can lead to watery eyes. Corneal ulcers are small open sores on the eye’s surface, often caused by trauma or foreign objects. These ulcers can be painful and may result in increased tear production as the cat’s eye attempts to heal itself.

If you suspect a corneal ulcer, immediate veterinary attention is crucial to prevent complications and ensure your cat’s comfort. Understanding the causes of watery eyes in cats is vital for their well-being and helps strengthen the unbreakable bond between feline companions and their human admirers.

The Science Behind Cat Tears

We often associate it with deep emotions like sadness, pain, or joy when we think of crying. However, in the world of cats, the concept of crying has a different meaning. While cats don’t shed tears as humans do when experiencing intense emotions, there’s still a fascinating scientific explanation behind those watery eyes.

Like humans, cats have a complex ocular system, including tear glands and ducts. These components work together to ensure the health and comfort of their eyes. When cats produce tears, it’s not necessarily an emotional response but a physiological mechanism.

Their tear film serves several vital functions, including lubricating the eye’s surface, preventing dryness, and aiding in removing debris and irritants. Unlike humans, who cry to convey a range of emotions, cats rely more on body language, vocalizations, and subtle behavioral cues to express themselves.

This is because cats’ emotional spectrum is distinct from that of humans, and their communication methods have evolved differently. When a cat’s eyes appear watery, it might not indicate sadness but rather a sign that something is affecting its ocular health.

Irritants like dust, pollen, or foreign particles can trigger increased tear production as the eyes work to flush out these substances. Infections, allergies, or underlying health conditions can also lead to excessive tearing.

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Other Reasons Why Cats Cry

Female cats in heat also exhibit a unique type of crying called caterwauling. This intense and sometimes unsettling vocalization allows female cats to attract males during their fertile period. While it might not involve tears, caterwauling is a clear example of how cats use their vocalizations to communicate their reproductive status and needs.

Cats may also cry if they are in pain, discomfort, or feeling unwell. As humans vocalize when hurting, cats might cry to express physical distress. These cries could indicate an underlying medical issue that needs prompt attention.


Cats don’t cry tears of emotion like humans, but they can have watery eyes due to various factors such as irritants, infections, or breed-specific traits. Understanding your cat’s behavior and recognizing the reasons behind their watery eyes can help you provide appropriate care.

Even though cats may not cry as we do, they still have unique ways of expressing their needs and emotions.


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Can cats cry tears of sadness?

No, cats can’t cry emotional tears like humans. Their tears primarily serve the physiological purpose of maintaining eye health.

How can I stop my cat from yowling excessively?

To curb excessive yowling, first, ensure your cat’s basic needs, such as food, water, and a clean litter box, are met. If the yowling persists, consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Do cats cry for attention?

Cats might cry to seek attention, especially if they’re in pain or discomfort or need companionship.

What’s the difference between caterwauling and crying?

Caterwauling is a vocalization primarily associated with female cats in heat, signaling reproductive readiness, and is distinct from crying.

How can I tell if my cat is sad?

Changes in behavior like lethargy, loss of appetite, and isolation can indicate that your cat might be experiencing sadness or underlying health issues. Consulting a vet is recommended.



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